Valtteri Bottas says the reality of Audi’s arrival on board gives Sauber a feeling of security and optimism for the future.
It’s a time of change for the Sauber squad as they venture into 2023, the final year of their partnership with Alfa Romeo.
And from there it goes full steam ahead to their days as an Audi works team which will start from 2026, when the first Audi power unit will come into use. The German brand is currently expanding its “Motorsport Competence Center” for this venture.
In the meantime though, Audi is no stranger to Sauber, having acquired a minority stake in Sauber Motorsport prior to the link.
And Bottas says Audi is allowing everyone at Sauber to look to the future with optimism.
The team has been busy in the off-season restructuring its management following the move of Fred Vasseur to Ferrari to become team boss. Andreas Seidl has moved from McLaren to become CEO of Sauber Motorsport, while Alessandro Alunni Bravi will serve as a team representative in a break from the traditional role of team principal.
“First of all, it’s really good for everyone in the team and at the factory that everything looks very stable,” Bottas said, according to Motorsport.com, at the launch of the team’s 2023 challenger, the Alfa Romeo C34.
“And there’s almost something like a concrete basis for the team that everything looks good going forward, whatever happens with the names and so on.
“Knowing that support will come from Audi is only good. So we don’t really have to worry about those names or anything like that. So I think everyone is in a good situation.
“If we didn’t have a commitment from Audi, then the situation would certainly be a bit more worrying. But I think the future of this team will look very strong here in Hinwil.”
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Bottas’ teammate Zhou Guanyu shares his teammate’s optimism, saying that after a few tough years and face changes, the team now has a clear direction to move forward with.
“I am also very happy,” Zhou said. “Firstly, because I can see what the future of the team is, and secondly, because I’ve talked to people around us and everyone is very motivated.
“The last few years have been quite difficult because people have come and gone, new faces, new members.
“Now you can really see what the future of this team is. This spurs us, the drivers and engineers, to work as hard as possible and improve the car every year. The team can only get better because there will be more people involved in the future. So it seems that Hinwil, the whole factory, has a very bright future ahead of them.
Sauber cannot allow comfort to become complacency
Now, we’re sure the Sauber team aren’t about to get complacent, but it must be stressed that this newfound comfort, now that they know their future is secure, cannot lead them to take their foot off the accelerator for a single moment.
A team that has often found itself as the small independent group battling for the big bucks, the budget constraint of Formula 1 has gone a long way in getting Sauber into the fight financially, and so this buildup to become Audi works teams must be used to pose the strongest foundations possible before that new era.
The downside, where Sauber treats almost the next three seasons as gratuitous successes with little at stake, knowing they now have Audi to fall back on, simply can’t be the come-true scenario.
For the good of Formula 1, we need to see an inspired, confident and courageous Sauber team take to the track in the years leading up to Audi, and we are sure this is the Sauber we will get.